Where am I?

One view

Friday I needed to go in to town. By the time I got to the main road I was feeling like a cured ham due to all the smoke. In fact BC managed to grab the honours for “worst air on Earth”, with the Okanagon area coming in with an Air Quality Index of 415. That’s “extremely dangerous”; roughly the equivalent of sucking the exhaust out of a semi’s stack under full load. We’re doing much better here with about 100 points less than that which puts us in the “very unhealthy” category.

I started out with fairly clear air when I left. Sucked down fumes through my whole trip. Then came back to a lake full of precipitated particles – which have yet to go away. There’s no promise of rain in the forecast, but possibly more lightning which could start more fires. Of course it’s a holiday weekend here, and lots of morons are heading out for some fun in the sun. Despite roads being closed, trails being closed, campsites being closed, evacuation zones being closed, and of course the whole bloody area being full of damn thick smoke. They’ll go anyway and think it no end of fun as they light their illegal campfires and send more of our province up in flames.

Halfway through “fire season” and we’ve had more fires than the average for a whole one. Also set a record for “wildfires of note” (the ones that endanger people directly). I wouldn’t be surprised if this year surpasses the nightmare of 2017 in terms of total area burned and/or damage done.

What does it really look like? I set the Nikon on “daylight” and snapped a shot (no alterations, colour correct, resulting image pretty much what you’d see in person):

This isn’t the worst-afflicted area either.

I’m doing nothing. The air isn’t fit to breath. I’m too old and too broken-down to deal with this stuff. A HEPA filter and N95 masks are no match for it.

Is my sight getting any better? I can’t tell because the world around me has gone into “soft focus” with lots of real “floaters” obstructing the view.

Side note: for some reason I grabbed the Olympus E-410 when I was home. The first picture is taken with that. I don’t think I’ll be doing any photography any time soon, but I have some prepared from this past week before things really went wahoonie-shaped. I’ve been thinking a lot about what equipment I have (four DSLRs with five different lens systems between them?) and will remark on that at a later date.

Canada Day: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Clouds made of smoke.

Canada Day, 2021.

First the good news; one of the missing cats, Hannibal, has returned! I happened to look out the window and there he was sitting on the deck. Appears to be none the worse for his four day adventure, except for an insistence on going out again. That’s not happening, big furry cat.

The bad news; wild fires have broken out all around, thanks to the thunderstorms last night. The air smells of smoke, the sky looks of smoke, and the nearest one is at the next lake over – just five kilometers away.

As seen from above.

This satellite view taken at about 4:30 PM Wednesday off Zoom Earth shows the cloud formations from the two largest fires. The one on the left you can follow the smoke trail down to the Lytton fire, and the one on the right leads down to the Kamloops fire. The shadow on the right is caused be the density of the smoke clouds, and the look white because if reflecting the sun back to the satellite. From beneath they are dark and grey-brown.

Raven lamenting.

The ugly part is that we don’t have much to celebrate in Canada this year. The revelation of the horror that was the residential schools has justifiably put a damper on all the good news, even the advances made against the pandemic. For those who don’t know, these “residential schools” were authorized by the government and operated largely by the Catholic church. For over 100 years, right up into the 1990s, they essentially kidnapped native children and abused them in some delusional effort to integrate them into mainstream society. What they really did was damage and often kill them. Then they tossed them into unmarked graves like so much garbage. The concept alone is appalling and horrific. The way they carried it out is akin to the Holocaust. Really. That this happened under what should have been the watchful eye of a supposed modern-day democracy rather than some ancient civilization or evil dictatorship only emphasizes how horrible it was. I don’t know where we go from here, but the road will be long and difficult.

As always, I concentrate on the little things I have some control over. Slowly work progresses, and I try not to think about the fact it may all burn down soon.

I am tired, I am weary, I am sad.

Seeing out the year

While most people are engaged in reviewing the past year and reiterating how awful it was or trying to pretend it really wasn’t that awful, I’m going to be different as usual and just go forward with some more new pictures instead. (And my late brother the English major would give me an award for constructing such a wonderfully awful run-on sentence as that one.)

The camera is, of course, the new-to-me “Zen Canon” PowerShot G11. Truly a fine quality device which I’m still ‘experimenting’ with. I would have taken more street shots when I went to town Tuesday, but it was all of -10˚C and also totally overcast – so no good for taking pictures or even being outside. Instead I had to sneak some shots in whenever I could to come up with the latest batch.

Lens testing. Wide-angle and close up, full automatic. The result is excellent.
A couple of the resident ravens.
Glacé. This is a segment of a shot which contains many potential images. I liked this bit best.

This camera looks and works like an old but automatic 35mm rangefinder. It has lots of controls on it, most of which I’ve tried and now ignore. For functioning on ‘automatic’ the G11 is second-to-none. I rarely even flip the LCD out and make use of that, much less dive into the menus and change settings. It’s like … using a film camera. So are the results.

It’s all about colour tonal range: CCD sensors!
Although not ideally suited to such extreme photography, the G11 performs well in skilled hands.
And away we go!

As you can see the G11 does a fine job as an ‘artistic’ camera, even though that’s not why I bought it. This is what the infamous ZS-60 was supposed to be capable of. Aside from the extreme difference in zoom capacity, the Canon is absolutely superior in every way to the Panasonic. Never mind the difference in price. The bargain PowerShot makes up for the waste-of-money Lumix. I’ll just pretend the prices were the other way around; that would make the cameras fit their costs. (For those who can’t follow my convoluted reasoning, I paid $12 for the used Canon PowerShot G11 and $300 for the brand new Panasonic Lumix ZS-60. In terms of performance the value is completely the other way around.)

Footnote: there is an optional ‘lens adapter’ for these cameras which twists on around the lens once you remove the protective base ring. It is a tube that sticks out and has a 58mm thread in front of the extended lens. To it you can affix filters or ‘accessory’ wide-tele lenses. The cheapest one I’ve located so far is 3X the price I paid for the camera. I don’t really think it would add much to the functionality so I won’t bother with the expense. Besides those add-on-to-the-front lenses don’t work very well, since the base lens was never designed to have the extra element stuck in front of it. A thin filter is one thing; a thick chunk of glass is quite another.

Misc.

Well it’s raining again. From the looks of the forecast I have showers to put up with off and on for sometime to come. This interferes with the current vital project of harvesting firewood. I don’t like getting wet and I especially don’t like working in a wet forest with the greater potential to slip and have an accident.

New wood stove at work.

Yesterday I ‘saw off’ all the neighbours so when I’m out here now I’m essentially alone. If something goes wrong I could be in big trouble. It has happened before, and I’m not younger or healthier now. Yes I’m too old for this.

It also isn’t any good for photography, all this rain.

Speaking of which, a few notes.

Some of photographers I follow have recently posted items that I am going to comment on in a non-specific way. This is not meant to be mean or insulting to them, just my observations.

Award Winners.

It’s great that you enter contests and win awards. Really. Not my thing but I am happy for you so keep it up and be happy yourself. I just want to say I’m amused by the fact the photos of yours that win prizes are not ones I would select from your efforts as being the best. This is more a comment on judging and competitions than your work. Hey I once won a poetry contest with the most trite piece of rubbish I’d ever penned. When you’re judged by other peoples’ tastes remember they aren’t necessarily any good. It’s fine that you can supply the right kind of photo to win, but the important thing is: are you making photos that you like? Please yourself and you’ll be happy.

Damsel

Film vs. Digital.

I notice some film images recently scanned and posted that were not sharp. I literally grew up taking film shots (insert the tired history: hundreds of cameras, thousands of images). This may be due to the scanning process, but since the same people use the same equipment and achieve different levels of results I can only conclude that sometimes film is not as sharp as digital (duh!). This is a milestone as there was a time when film, any film, had greater resolution. Other than a tendency to ‘blow out’ with overexposure, digital has unquestionably surpassed film in quality. If you know how to use it.

Sunset before the smoke came

Equipment, equipment, equipment.

I like new cameras. I like old cameras. I like digital cameras. I like film cameras.

I can only afford to use the digital ones I have, and fortunately four of them are more than good enough for my ‘professional snapshot’ style.

But I like cameras for their own sake. It’s the engineer in me. So I will read reviews of the latest Sony A7**** whatever, although I won’t necessarily want it. I will want cameras I can’t afford, usually for rather dubious reasons such as “I’d like to try it” or Eric L. Woods’ famous “because I like it” criterion. Mostly I dream about being able to pick up cheap digital to play with, like the Canon PowerShot A70 that I have or the old Kodak V1003 (both of which work, but have limiting defects now so don’t get used). The Fuji EXR is one of the best cameras I’ve ever had, especially for the <$75 price.

The point is that equipment can be a thing in and of itself, intersecting with the end result images. It is troublesome when you buy a lot and never use it, or buy something pricey which doesn’t give results (ahem, Lumix ZS60).

As such I’ve been focusing (pun intended) on the images more than the equipment lately. Mostly because the market for more equipment is not good where I am: poor selection and terrible prices.

Oh Red Cap!

Other notes.

I’m not terribly pleased with the way this WordPress work-around works, as it’s a pain to work with and limits my photo sizes to ‘small’. There’s probably some method of adjusting that, but I haven’t stumbled on it.

Life in general I shall not comment on. The world is a very depressing place right now, with little sign of improvement. Quite the opposite. My opinions on it won’t change anything, so I’ll just remain quiet.

Today I will bring in another load of wood, in the rain, and unload it, in the rain. Tomorrow … well I don’t know. The shed is about half full but I can’t count on the weather so I guess I will play it by ear and keep harvesting.

Sadly it looks like the Mrs. will not get to spend time out here this year. That was the main goal of my efforts too, but events conspire against it.

Try to be happy.

Out of the cold

Looks like we’re warming up around here. For example Sunday morning it was -18°C, which is warmer than it had been in a week, and got up above freezing by afternoon. Now they are predicting more highs above freezing coming up every day this week. Massively different from the arctic conditions we’ve just suffered through.

To that end, a few things I shot while it was so cold. Most were taken inside in fact, even though they show the freezing outside.

DSCN2080
Window on the frozen world
icy1
Ice snakes
DSCN2088
A spray of darkness
icy2
Crystal forest
DSCN2089
Some other land
DSCN2094
Staying warm

I didn’t get the new camera last week. Hopefully it will show up early this week so I can try it out in the sunshine … and warmth.